Web Development: Davis-Standard
Industrial Manufacturing Equipment (Plastics)
Plastics Manufacturing, International
Internal Family of Websites
Brief. This project was highly complex, with numerous considerations. If your website development need is complex, requiring a sophisticated business oriented approach, this case study is worth the read. If your website program is smaller, or local, many of the same business principals still apply.
Develop new international family of websites. The client’s previous website was six years old. Their brand had changed significantly, and their website no longer represented them. A complete visual rebranding and new website construction were required.
About the Client. Davis-Standard, LLC is a large international manufacturing company, with three major U.S. facilities, as well as operations in Germany and China. The company manufactures plastics converting and extrusion equipment, used by consumer and industrial product manufactures. Davis-Standard’s equipment encompasses an impressive array of plastics forming equipment, such as: machines that make plastic sheeting for packaging, machines that make blown film for plastic bags, and a wide range of supporting equipment.
Davis-Standard had been acquired. In the years preceding this project, Davis-Standard had been acquired by a private equity company. During this transaction, a dozen or so competing brands were also acquired. Combined, these brands were collectively known as Davis-Standard. The primary objective of this new website project was adopting these known & established brands into one new entity, and clearly explaining this to Davis-Standard’s customers and markets.
From a business and branding standpoint, this was a highly complex project.
Challenges & Solutions
The client was losing business to key competitors. An outdated and incomplete website program were targeted as serious contributing factors.
Convince the client’s management team their project was bigger than they thought. In January, the client’s management team approached MG Lomb with their branding and design related problem; “We’ve got a competitor taking a lot of business from us, and their website program is really good. Can we improve the visuals on our website to compete better?” At the time, MG Lomb had been the client’s agency for a few years. We knew our client, and we knew their markets. We also knew that the answer to their problem was anything but inconsequential, nor would it be easily resolved by incremental brand modifications.
Between January and May, MG Lomb presented six iterations of our website and branding redevelopment proposal.
Six proposal iterations. A full service agency, MG Lomb tackles the entire range of marketing and advertising issues – not just the website. This gives us a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of all aspects of a business’ related needs. It also makes our recommendations thorough, comprehensive and effective at achieving our clients’ business goals – not just a nice new website. Busy professionals, however, do not necessarily approach website development this way. Subsequently, some upfront discussions were necessary.
At the initial January meeting, Davis-Standard’s management team presented their problem to MG Lomb. Their request was for a proposal to “crisp up” their brand, and lightly update their website. MG Lomb recommended taking a step back to fully examine their problem.
MG Lomb’s responsibility includes providing effective, results-oriented marketing and branding advice. We’re interested in “doing it right,” whenever possible. After hearing the client’s problem, we asked that they entertain MG Lomb’s full perspective on their issue. Within a few days, MG Lomb’s Marketing Director returned and presented a comprehensive proposal, outlining MG Lomb’s take on their problem.
Synopsis. Rebuild Davis-Standard’s existing website program from scratch. Emphasize reintroduction of the Davis-Standard brand (to a market confused about their corporate structure), and, rebuild their website utilizing current reactive website design programming, accommodating for cross browser compatibility, addressing SEO, and improving mobile web viewing functionality.
MG Lomb’s recommendations were considerably more complex than expected. The Davis-Standard management team needed to do their due diligence, so they asked for MG Lomb’s patience while they considered the recommendations.
When they came back, a month later, Davis-Standard decided to do it right. They engaged MG Lomb in a process whereby the project was reexamined and re-scoped over a period of a few months. A proper emphasis on defining their brand, addressing customer related perception issues, and reconstructing their website to relevant technology and social media concerns was implemented. Due to budget constraints, not every recommendation was included, but an optimal cost & deliverables balance was struck.
NOTE: Scoping is the point where MOST website projects go wrong. With zeal to control costs; smart, effective and well meaning business professionals often falsely categorize “website development” as a commodity, delivered by a web developer. It’s not.
The best websites include a scope that accomplishes their company’s goals. Websites are your business’ most critically important marketing & advertising tool. A marketing expert, with supporting web developers, is the correct solution – not a programmer with tangential marketing knowledge. Project scope should support this ideology.
Customer Perception Challenge
Significant market confusion about Davis-Standard. It’s difficult to want to buy from a company you don’t understand. This was a serious problem. The Davis-Standard brand acquisition process had left their customers, markets and industry publications all confused; confusion equals loss of brand confidence – not a good thing for sales.
Paramount to the website redevelopment project was the correction of this serious marketing and branding issue. During the scoping phase, MG Lomb performed market research. The problem was specifically identified and MG Lomb recommend a solution.
The Davis-Standard brand acquisition process had resulted in a confusing corporate structure. The markets were asking … “What, and who is Davis-Standard.” The first line of defense in answering that question – the company’s website – wasn’t doing it. Worse, the existing website made it even more confusing. The acquisition process resulted in two separate divisions of Davis-Standard (and comprising a dozen legacy brands). But there was no clear connection between these two divisions, nor was it understood by Davis-Standard’s markets and customers.
Brand confidence equals stronger market control. This customer perception problem was eroding brand confidence, and contributing to lost opportunities with new customers. MG Lomb’s market research resulted in an effective solution – follow the auto industry branding model.
Reintroduce the Davis-Standard brand – via the website. When the Davis-Standard management team first received MG Lomb’s recommendations (during the re-scoping process) their initial response was that it seemed inconsequential. MG Lomb persisted.
MG Lomb’s market research had identified an effective website branding model, which would solve Davis-Standard’s division related branding and customer perception issues. The General Motors website.
Instead of only updating Davis-Standard’s international family of websites, with new graphics, MG Lomb recommended creating an entirely new “Corporate Umbrella Website” … a Davis-Standard parent company website – with supporting brand relationship websites … like GM has done with Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac.
MG Lomb’s solution slowly gained acceptance, but quickly grew wings. By the end of the re-scoping process, the Davis-Standard management team was fully onboard with MG Lomb’s proposed solution. Creation of a new parent company website, with supporting brand websites for the Converting and Extrusion Systems divisions was settled.
Not only did the Davis-Standard management team embrace MG Lomb’s solution, they found that it provided a platform by which to address numerous other critical customer initiatives, such as: explaining the company’s Green & energy initiatives, technology innovations, address investors, and fully explain the gradual adoption of legacy brands via acquisitions.
The new Davis-Standard website program was a success. Not only did Davis-Standard’s management team and employees perceive the new website program as a great success, Davis-Standard’s customers and competitors began contacting MG Lomb to request support with their website development needs.
International family of websites. Summarily, the Davis-Standard family of websites is constructed and consists of:
- 7 Websites. One parent, two divisions, Chinese and German variations, plus a U.K. website
- Reactive home page design (parent website)
- Interactive design components
- Cross browser and mobile browser compatibility
- App versions of website, iOS and Android
- Customer & employee web based data centers (content management system)
- Visually rebranded, enhanced imagery